The Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only all- weather surface link between Kashmir and the rest of the country, has been closed for vehicular traffic for the second consecutive day on Friday due to fresh snowfall and landslides, officials said. “There was fresh snowfall and also landslides on highway in Pantiyal-Battery Cheshma-Ramban sector. Restoration work at several places is going on despite shooting of stones at Battery Cheshma and Pantiyal,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Suresh Sharma said. Landslides at Battery Cheshma and Anokhi fall in the morning led to the blockage of the road, he said. Snowfall was continuing till afternoon in Banihal and Jawahar tunnel areas, Mr. Sharma said.Mughal road closed The Mughal road, an alternative road connecting Kashmir’s Shopian district with Poonch district of the Jammu region, has been closed for over a fortnight due to snowfall, Mr. Sharma said. The Jammu-Srinagar highway had reopened on Sunday after remaining closed for over six days following landslides and heavy snowfall.
A day after senior JD(U) leader and party general secretary K.C. Tyagi had indicated that the party could consider joining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet if the party was invited to join the government at the Centre on a proportional basis, party president, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday dismissed all such talk as ‘faltu’ (frivolous). Earlier, after the 2019 parliamentary poll results, the BJP had ignored the JD(U)’s demand for “proportional representation” in the Union Cabinet.Mr. Tyagi had on Wednesday said that if there was an invitation to join the Union Cabinet on the basis of “proportional representation” from the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also BJP president, then “we will welcome the step”. The JD(U) leader, who was addressing media persons following Mr. Kumar’s re-election as national president at the party’s national council meeting in Delhi, added that “the BJP should adjust with the JD(U) at the Centre” as Mr. Kumar had given its NDA ally proportional representation in the State government. Mr. Tyagi’s comment had fuelled speculation that the JD(U) was possibly looking to drive a hard bargain with the BJP for a Cabinet berth amid the saffron party’s face-off over power-sharing with alliance partner Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.However, on Thursday, the JD(U) President rubbished all such speculation. “Aisi koi baat nahin hui hai… sab faltu baat hai (no such talks have taken place… all this is frivolous talk),” said a poker-faced Mr. Kumar, while responding to queries from journalists in Patna on the sidelines of a function to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.Earlier this year, after winning 16 seats in Bihar in the general elections, compared to the BJP’s 17, the JD(U) had found its demand for “proportional representation” in the Union Cabinet being brushed aside by the BJP, which had asserted that alliance partners would only get “symbolic representation” in the government.The contradictory statements by the top JD(U) leaders over joining the Union Cabinet drew a jibe from the Opposition RJD. “Some senior JD(U) leaders are desperate and keen to join the Union Cabinet but their leader Nitish Kumar is blocking their road,” remarked RJD leader and party MLA Bhai Birendra. “So, when party leader K.C. Tyagi expressed desire, Mr. Kumar snubbed it the day after,” quipped Mr. Birendra. The Congress too took a swipe at the JD(U) over the issue. “Nitish Kumar is soon going to land in a very difficult situation within his party itself,” said senior Bihar Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra. “Bihar is slated to go for Assembly polls next year and there is much to be seen between the BJP and JD(U)… the real drama will unfold when talks on seat sharing would start between the two partners,” he added.